Friday, 30 October 2015

Mourning Halloween

Halloween always use to be my favourite holiday, and it breaks my heart that I can no longer call it that. As a child I would always count down the days every year, getting super excited as the shops began to fill with all the spooky stuff! Some of my happiest childhood memories include gummy vampire teeth, funky nails, face paint and A LOT of fake blood. But unfortunately those days are no more. *sniff* *sniff*

Every year I get a warm feeling as I see the fake spider webs reappear, but then it’s all lost when I remember that I’ve been left shut out from it all. Since entering adulthood, Halloween has left me and my undead heart broken. What is there to do on All Hallows’ Eve as a 21 year old student that doesn’t involve drinking?

That’s the problem… There isn’t really. At least not that I know of! If you do have any ideas please share them with me!!

Although the thrill of getting my costume sorted and all dressed up has been enough to drive me out once or twice I never really enjoy it. Like I never enjoy drinking or clubbing. I don’t know why every year I think the 31st October would be any different. This year’s going to be different though, as I’m not quite sure how I feel about not having anything planned. Or rather nothing that involves the usual costume and decorations, a rather depressing thought. 

But at least I’m breaking the cycle of having another disappointing night. For once I’m staying in, I’ve planned a night of classic horrors with my best boy friend. 

Being teetotal has a great deal of benefits and it’s a lifestyle that has always suited me, except for at this one time of year. I can’t help but be forever envious of those who can still experience the full potential of the night! 

As I pack up my box of tricks and say goodbye to my spookiest nightmares, I wish you all a great Halloween. Please if you have any advice or suggestions as to what I can do with myself in future years do share! Or if you feel my pain I’d love you to get in touch as well.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

App of the Month: Elevate

This marks my 3rd app of the month post which make this my third month of blogging. I have to say I’ve been enjoying the journey so far, and although this blog is for me firstly and foremost I am missing having any feedback or interaction with you, my readers. Therefore I’d like to start this post with a bit of a plea, talk to me! I would highly appreciate any and all response, comment on any and all of my posts. So do that, pretty pretty please with sugar on top. If you don’t know what to say, then I’ve made a little survey which I’d appreciate anyone filling out.

So let me dust the dirt from my knees, and get back on to the matter in hand. The application I want to highlight this month, which won Apple’s App of the Year in 2014, is called Elevate. 
Name: Elevate
Price: Free (Upgrade to ‘Pro’ available at an extra cost)
Available on: Apple & Android
Category: Education

Do you remember that brain training game that came out on Nintendo DS? Well Elevate is just an app of that! The application includes lots of fun little mini-games, each of which aims to improve your skills in a specific area. You’ll be tested through the means of writing, listening, reading and math. Simply set a goal number of times to ‘train’ every week, then it’s just 10 minutes each time. Well depending how savvy and well-versed you are, you could be through it in only a couple minutes.
When you initially download the app you’ll complete a mini pop quiz to assess your current level, and from there on out the games shall adjust their difficulty automatically to allow your progression.

I’ve been playing around with this app for about 6 months and generally manage to meet my goal of training 5 times each week without too much hardship. I just a week Elevate told me I’d made improvements but I wasn’t sure if I agreed, but now, after 6 months, I can definitely see a difference.
Elevate isn’t designed to work on your general mental capabilities or logic but rather your ‘practical’ metal skills. By this I simply mean things like mental arithmetic, speedy calculations, spelling, grammar, punctuation and reading speeds. The great thing about this is that you can actually measure your improvements yourself, they’re not too subconscious for you not to notice a difference. Plus unlike some of those classes in school that left the majority of us wandering ‘why exactly do I need to know this?’ or ‘how exactly will this even remotely aid me in my day-to-day life?’ Elevate works on straight up, straight-forward helpful skills that we do all use in everyday life (whether we’re aware of it or not).

As a English student who spends a lot of time writing and proof reading essays I cannot stress the difference this simple app with its simple training has helped me. Gone are the days where I was continuously having to look up the correct uses of colons or semi-colons and there is no more stressing over whether my syntax (grammar) is really correct or not. Thanks to Elevate and my 5 minute interaction with it 3-5 times a week I’m now a pro. Things I never thought I’d be able to grasp 100% are now practically innate.

Another great feature of Elevate is its Study tab which is loaded with tips and crib notes on several topics. So whether you want to brush up on your enunciation or word fundamentals you can access this little treasure trove of useful information, allowing you to independently revise or study such things. Using this tab will enable your progression through the ‘levels’ of the app but you don’t exactly need to use it if you don’t want to, it’s simply another way Elevate is trying to support your growing skills within or out of the app.
The game is initially free so why not download it today and give it go!

PRO vs. Free 

As I mentioned earlier I’ve been using this app for a while, but I am yet to feel the need to upgrade to Elevate’s PRO package. Of course there are several reasons to pay for pro, the big one being all the additional content, but personally the free portion fits all my needs.
So reasons to go ‘pro’:
- 14 extra games exclusive to pro users
- Unlimited access to 35+ games
- Access to more premium learning content under the Study tab.

To go PRO you must enter a monthly or yearly subscription with Elevate, prices are available in app or on the Elevate app website. 

More information is available on the Elevate app website

Next month I’ll be highlighting yet another app I love to use, but in the meantime if you enjoyed this post have a read of my past App of the Month reviews:

Friday, 9 October 2015

My First Week Oil Pulling with Coconut Oil

Firstly I need to apologise for my absence, I’ve just started my last year at university so it’s been a hectic few weeks. I do have the best intentions to post as often as I can but unfortunately life can get in the way from time to time. Now I’m starting to settle into my new job and uni timetable I see no reason why my posting shouldn’t be pretty regular again! So please forgive me! I look forward to sharing more of my ramblings with you.

Last month I posted about the new trend that is Oil Pulling; the general ins and outs, pros and cons (not that there were any cons that I could see). It may be a good idea to read that post first if you haven’t already by clicking here. For those who did read my last oil pulling post I appreciate that I cut it off rather abruptly. But as promised I’m back to carry on with it! (Even if it’s much later than I first anticipated). In this post I’ll be giving you a bit more information about how to go about oil pulling if you want to try it yourself and letting you know how I’ve gotten along with it so far. I apologise in advance if I do repeat anything from the previous post.

So first off why did I decide to give it a go? To be honest it was just one of those ‘why not?’ moments. After reading as much on oil-pulling as I did, I just couldn’t resist giving it a go what with all the potential benefits. I’ve never tried any form of detox before so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, if anything. But the supposed detoxing properties aside, the idea of finding such a simple and natural way to whiten my teeth is what really had me hooked on the idea. Not only am I a smoker, that’s one vice I’ve yet to conquer, but I also have a love of strong black coffee which means my teeth may not be as white as they could be. I’m also a virgin to any form of whitening, which I guess means that I won’t be able to give you the greatest idea of comparison to other forms of chemical whitening or detox. But I can tell you whether it appears to be working!

Oil-pulling is pretty simple - the only thing you need is the oil. You can choose to use any vegetable oil you like (sunflower, sesame, olive, coconut) as long as it’s extra virgin! Coconut oil appears to be the most popular choice by far as it has been proven to naturally benefit in the prevention of tooth decay. Simply just take a tablespoon of your preferred oil and swish it around your mouth for approximately 20 minutes. Voila! You’re done. Okay maybe I simplified it a little bit but that’s the basics of it. But I guess a little bit more detail would be useful, so here’s a quick guide to the ‘rules’ (if you will) of oil-pulling.
 1.       Do it on an empty stomach. First thing in the morning or last thing at night doesn’t really matter, but you shouldn’t have eaten anything for at least 4 hours.
       2.      Be gentle! 20 minutes is quite a long time so you shouldn’t be going about this the same way as you would mouthwash. If your jaw begins to ache or be painful at any time you’re being too aggressive so slow down! Swishing quickly or vigorously won’t actually make any difference but you could hurt yourself.
      3.      Spit don’t swallow (dirty!). Giggles aside, just don’t do it. The idea of oil-pulling is to draw out all sorts of nasties from your mouth/body into the oil so if you swallow you’re taking it all back in, ew.
      4.      Watch where you spit it. This is more relevant for coconut oil pullers but still stands whatever vegetable oil you chose. Oil is a fatty substance which means it can block up drains and pipes so make sure to spit out the residue into the toilet or a tissue and put it in the bin. Coconut oil turns to solid at room temperature so it’s more likely to cause blockage faster, so a tissue’s the only option.
5.      Rinse and brush. Last but least you need to rinse your mouth with water before eating or drinking anything, and clean your teeth with a fluoride-free toothpaste. Or if you don’t have a non-fluoride toothpaste then just rinse your mouth with salt water before brushing.
There you go, not exactly complicated so why not have a go! Oil-pulling is incredibly cheap, I bought my 488g tub of extra virgin coconut oil for £15.99 from Holland and Barrett. I know that might sound a little dear but when compared to what Coco White charges, £24.99 for 140g, it’s actually quite the bargain and will last you agggeesss.

I’ve now been oil-pulling with coconut oil for a week and so far so good. I decided to use coconut oil purely because I already use it to condition my hair, so why would I go out and buy something else? The extra benefits coconut oil have in regard to dental care are an obvious bonus, but in all honesty I simply preferred the idea of coconut oil. There’s something about the thought of gargling olive oil that makes me feel a little bit queasy.  

I struggled with the quantity at first, a full tablespoon felt like a lot once it melted. I was terrified of drooling as my saliva mixed with the oil (apologies for the possibly unwanted information!) and my mouth felt too full to keep the liquid moving. My solution for this little problem was to cut down the time, and/or break it up. For the first 3 days I swished the oil for approximately 10 minutes before spitting out and then taking a new tablespoon and repeating the process to make up a full 20 minutes. The 4th and 5th days I managed to hold the liquid for 15 minutes before needing to stop but now can comfortably oil pull for a full 20 minutes non-stop. I wouldn’t have necessarily have thought any skill to be involved in oil pulling but guess I was wrong…

Everything else about the process was easy as pie. I’d heard mixed reviews about the taste and texture of coconut oil but personally I didn’t mind the taste, in fact I kinda liked it. However I will admit that the texture was slightly odd to start off with, but I wouldn’t say it was unpleasant; just another thing to get used to. If you really don’t like the initial texture of the solid then you can easily melt the oil beforehand by placing the container into warm water.

Although I much preferred the idea of using coconut oil opposed to any other vegetable variety, I was still pretty apprehensive about it. The initial idea of the oil-pulling process is kinda gross, right? It can’t just be me who thinks putting oil, whatever sort, in your mouth should be a no-no, aren’t we constantly told to cut down on how much we use anyway? But at the end of the day I put all my doubts out of my head and gave it a go, and I’m pretty sure it’s paying off.

The only really difficult thing I found about the whole process was when to go about it. I’m one of those people who wakes up ravenous and has to eat IMMEDIATELY, which means the suggested time of first thing in the morning when you have an empty stomach didn’t exactly suit me. So instead I choose to oil-pull last thing at night. Four hours after finishing eating I would do my oil-pulling and brush my teeth before bed; it was a pretty simple addition to my bed-time routine which was so much easier than trying to add it to my already hectic mornings.

Now for the bit you’re all really desperate to know: Did it actually work? Obviously after just one week I can’t really be certain about how well the whole process is working in regards to detox but my teeth definitely look whiter, so I’m going to keep it up! I hope you’re not too disappointed that I can’t offer you more regarding how effective the process is yet, but I aim to update you all again on my little experiment in a few weeks’ time! If you are giving oil-pulling a go please feel free to share your experiences with me, or any questions!

If you enjoyed this post then you might like to have a read of The Newest Trend of Detox and Teeth Whitening: Oil Pulling or Cruelty-Free vs. Vegan.

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